Senior Dogs



As our pets age we may notice some changes in their health, such as declines in:


  • Mobility            

  • Hearing                

  • Vision

  • Understanding


We all love our pets and want them to be with us for as long as reasonably possible. We carry on our daily rituals with our furry family members, and love them and appreciate them without thinking how their age makes them more vulnerable to becoming lost.  We are writing this article because we want to raise awareness of just how many people lose their senior dogs, how that happens, and what you can do to prevent it.


Day in and day out, you let your dog outside to go and do their duty and when they’re done, they wait patiently at the door. Sound familiar?


This activity has become such a habit from puppyhood that owners don't think twice when letting their dogs outside. You’ve never had a problem, and Fido is so loyal and smart that he’ll never take off.


However, it only takes that one time. Whether there was an unexpected loud sound like a firework or a tire blowing out, another animal running off or making noise, or something different altogether, there was a distraction or disorientation that may not have affected your pooch when it was younger. Your pooch ran off, and when you check the door, they’re just not there. Your beloved elderly pet could not find their way back to the door and now is lost.


We at CT Dog Gone Recovery Volunteers (DGR) have found this has happened all too often.

When we do find these pets, they are often entangled in heavy brush, stuck in a sewer drain or cannot climb out of a ditch that is too steep for their aging legs. These dogs have usually not wandered too far, but something has stopped them from getting home safely.


Any owner that has gone through this experience will tell you how heartbreaking that has been for them and wish they knew ways to keep their senior dog safe.


The good news is this: YOU can learn these proactive measures before there’s a problem and can start implementing these tricks into your everyday life NOW.


ALWAYS: Have your senior on a leash within a few feet of you

NEVER: Let your dog outside unattended and unsecured

There are a couple of reasons for this:


  1. By keeping you senior near you, she is less vulnerable to any predators that may be lurking nearby to prey on a disabled animal.

  2. You will notice faster if your senior dog tries to wander off.


These simple proactive steps will result in both of you returning to the house happy and healthy.


ALWAYS: Be on the lookout for things that could distract or frighten your dog

NEVER: Assume your elderly dog will respond the same way to a trigger as they used to


As dogs get older, their perceptions of the world change. Besides just their physical bodies having different responses and pains, their mental processes may slow down or interpret things differently. A dog who was never scared of thunderstorms or gunshots may now have slower reflexes and weakened, ringing hearing, making them jumpier than before. This is also often seen in dogs who have recently lost other senior “family” pets you had in the household as a traumatic response.


ALWAYS: Be an attentive dog owner

NEVER: Assume your senior will eventually show up on their own


If you notice your dog is not in sight, it only takes a moment to quickly look around to make sure you know where they went. If your dog is still not visible after a few seconds of looking, take the time to physically go around your yard, street or dog park to prevent your pet from getting too far. Assuming your senior is not lost and will come back by themselves means that you’re assuming they are not hurt, stuck, or disoriented from old age. The time a search for a lost dog starts compared to the time the dog left your property can make a massive difference in the outcome of the search.


TIP: If it’s hard to imagine being so watchful of a pet, try comparing your dog’s mental and physical capacity in its old age to that of a kindergarten child. If you wouldn’t want a young child to be somewhere without close supervision, don’t let your dog there either.


What should you do if your senior does get lost?


Immediately search the area thoroughly.


  • Start at the point lost and go out in a radius from there up to ½ mile.  Usually, a lost senior generally does not travel far, however, your dog may surprise you and go further than you expect.


  • Often senior dogs will avoid climbing uphill. If the landscape is sloped, it is possible your dog may have wandered downwards and is either stuck, can't get back up the hill, or both.


  • Thoroughly check sewer drains , holes, brush, in and around pools, under decks, sheds, and in and under bushes in your yard as well as your neighbor's yards


  • We suggest bringing lost dog flyers and asking your neighbors if you can check their yards for him/her.  It is important that you search because they will not do as good of a job searching as you will.  


  • Most important, check everything around you, check it again, recruit friends and family to help to have eyes in multiple places at once, and take nothing for granted.


  • Sometimes even yard obstacles such as fences, shrubs etc. are impassable to a senior who is arthritic, poor-sighted or confused . These obstacles trap your dog or may even redirect them elsewhere. We often find that senior dogs may not understand how to find the most obvious exit from a confined area.


If you have not been successful in locating your dog with a quick search,  contact our group

at We will help you organize a lost dog search and review with you all options available to assist you in the search. 

Tips for Senior Dog Owners